Did you know during an eight-hour sleep pattern the average adult only spends approximately 1.5 hours (or 20% of total sleep time) in rapid eye movement (REM) sleep?
REM sleep is important because it is the restorative part of the sleep cycle. Typically, you begin the sleep cycle with a period of non-REM sleep followed by a very short period of REM sleep. The period of NREM sleep is made up of stages 1-4. Each stage can last from five to 15 minutes. A completed cycle of sleep consists of a progression from stages 1-4 before REM sleep is attained, then the cycle starts over again.
However, if your REM sleep is disrupted even one night, your body won’t follow its normal circadian sleep cycle (“inner clock”) progression. Instead, you will slip directly into REM sleep as a result of not getting the right amount of sleep the night before. Also, you will go through extended periods of REM sleep until you “catch up” on this stage of sleep. Poor sleep cycles can cause grogginess, a lack of concentration and more.
Typically, people often associate REM sleep with dreams. While dreams can occur in other deep sleep stages, most dreams occur during REM sleep. Researchers are still trying to learn exactly why people need REM sleep, why we dream and for what purpose our dreams serve. However, some researchers theorize dreams are the brains way of processing emotions, information, memories and stress much clearer.
Changing your way of life so that every night you can get the proper sleep you need is key. Here are a few tips you can do to increase the chance of a good nights sleep:
- Keep a regular sleep schedule
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine
- Manage your thoughts
- Stay away from big meals at night
- Avoid alcohol before bed
- Eliminate caffeine after lunch
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